Celebrating Diversity at ALS2019

Celebrating Diversity at ALS2019

Macquarie University’s Department of Linguistics is proud to be hosting ALS2019, the 52nd conference of the Australian Linguistic Society. In recognition of the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL2019), we have chosen the overarching theme Celebrating Diversity for this event. Linguistic diversity and variation are central to human diversity, which, for better or for worse, has bestowed Homo sapiens with the extraordinary evolutionary fitness that has allowed us to shape our own destinies and the destiny of our planet. We will thus celebrate our languages and their speakers, as well as celebrate the diverse range of peoples who are engaged in linguistic research or engaged in programs aimed at safeguarding our linguistic diversity.

Our conference program is certainly worth celebrating! On Tuesday the 10th of December we have a very exciting pre-conference program, followed by an official welcome reception and welcome to country. In the main conference (11th to 13th December), we have three exciting plenary presentations. On the Wednesday, James N. Stanford will speak about efforts to blend variationist sociolinguistics with language documentation, while on the Thursday, Lisa Matthewson will present on semantic variation, with reference to her work on St’├ít’imcets (Lillooet Salish), Gitksan (Tsimshianic) and Niuean (Polynesian). Finally, on the Friday we will conclude the conference with a public showcase event: Two way Linguistics: Working together for Indigenous Languages. (Seats are limited, so register here for this free event.) This plenary panel will examine linguistic partnerships between academic researchers and community-based language workers, with a mind to developing better career pathways for Indigenous people working to document and protect their linguistic heritage. Presenters include representatives from Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Cultural Co-op (Sharon Edgar-Jones), First Languages Australia (Melinda Holden) and the Mudburra Language Project (Eleanor Dixon and Felicity Meakins). Furthermore, the range of panels, workshops, posters and presentations in the general sessions attest to both the diversity of Linguistics in our region of the world, and to the enormous diversity of languages being researched. Well over 50 different languages will be discussed at the conference, including presentations on at least 26 different Australian Aboriginal languages, on more than a dozen varieties of English, on creoles, on mixed languages, signed languages, and on gesture. We are looking forward to welcoming delegates and to speaking and hearing more about the amazing work that we are all engaged in, and to developing our ideas for even more amazing work in the future.

Joe Blythe

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